Mapping Business Processes Isn’t That Difficult

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Lean, Process Improvement | 1 comment


Think ProcessProcess mapping is a very useful tool that not only helps you document your current process but can also serve as a framework for making processes more consistent and efficient.

Just last week, I had the opportunity to lead a group of 23 HR professionals and develop a process map for their on-boarding for new hires.  All were from the same company, but represented about eight locations spread across the country.  During the morning session we reviewed basic lean concepts, the seven forms of waste, and process mapping fundamentals.  I broke them into three teams and had them go through an exercise where they identified waste associated in their HR function for each of the seven forms of waste.  This exercise not only helped them associate the waste with their specific location and function, but also generated a potential list of opportunities for future kaizen events.  After lunch, the group developed a SIPOC to better understand who the customers, suppliers, inputs, outputs, and their requirements are for on-boarding new hires.

I find the SIPOC very useful in that it helps teams better understand their process, whose involved, and what it looks like at a high level.  The hour spent putting the SIPOC together was time well spent in that it established the beginning and ending boundaries of the process and made our process mapping go much smoother.

The group used a Swim Lane process map.  We plastered a long wall with flip chart paper and used post-it notes to identify the individual process steps.  It’s important to let the group discuss the process and document any differences so it can show them areas where standardization and commonization can be achieved.  There was a lot discussion on forms, what was required, and how they could also commonize them.

After the group mapping process was completed, I  documented it in Microsoft Visio.  If you haven’t used Visio you should check it out.  It makes the process of documenting very easy and simple and can be saved as a pdf.

After completing the map, the group discussed the differences and developed teams to address them and make them common.  Other mapping benefits included the following:

  • Discussion of forms and what is absolutely needed
  • Identification of system waste and how to eliminate it
  • Areas where a checklist may be helpful so that important steps are not forgotten
  • Areas where additional training would be helpful
  • Common understanding of the process flow
  • Understanding where process hand-offs occur from one functional group to another and the necessary information required
  • Understanding of the inputs and associated deliverables for each process step

All this was accomplished in less than eight hours.  It’s also important to have a good facilitator that can keep the group focused and on-track especially when dealing with large groups.

One Response to “Mapping Business Processes Isn’t That Difficult”

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